Only Black-owned bookstore in Boston pushes for literacy

The store is owned and operated by a local married couple who push for traditional reading experiences.

Roxbury is a major cultural hub in the city of Boston. However, the area is often overlooked by tourists, and even some locals, who seek mainstream attractions. The area has a large Black population and features dozens of Black-owned businesses.

NBC Boston’s Kwani Lunis reminded viewers that Malcolm X lived in the area during his teenage years and that members of New Edition hail from the area. Roxbury also has a rich jazz music pedigree.

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

To showcase the history of the city, Lunis visited Frugal Bookstore, a place she says she can “spend hours and hours in.” It’s the only Black-owned bookstore in the city and serves as a space for numerous community events, book readings, poetry slams, author talks, and more.

“The reason why I love it is because it embraces Black art and culture,” Lunis said. The store has a variety of books to choose from, including best-sellers, a poetry section, children’s books, and more. 

The store’s logo is “Changing minds one book at a time.” But the owners’ passion is to promote literacy at every age. 

Frugal Bookstore (Credit: Facebook)

“What I think makes this store so special is its children’s corner,” Lunis said. “Every child of color is represented on these shelves Growing up, I wish I had these many options. So what I would suggest to any family is to incorporate these kinds of books into your child’s library.” 

Customers are able to shop in-store or online. The store provides bulk options for non-profits and educational centers. But the store encourages traditional book-in-hand reading over electronic devices. 

Frugal Bookstore has survived some of the toughest financial times in recent years. Of course, it was impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic. “Things were looking really bleak,” owner Leonard Egerton told WBUR in May 2020. Leonard has run the bookstore alongside his wife, Clarissa, for 13 years.

The bookstore made it through the 2008 recession, but 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic nearly forced it to shut its doors. “It was scary, this has been our livelihood,” Leonard said. “Everything we have done…emotionally, physically, intellectually, has stemmed from this bookstore.” 

They jumped into action quickly, deciding to start a GoFundMe account with the hopes of raising $20,000 to stay afloat. Within 24 hours, they surpassed their goal by $5,000. “We were blown away by the amount of the support,” Clarissa said. “To this day we’re speechless.”

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